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Adam Clayton Powell III

Adam Clayton Powell III – a broadcast reporter, executive, author and analyst of new media technology – will play a leading role in the USC Annenberg Local Broadcast News Initiative.

The goal of the Annenberg Initiative, announced in September 2002, is to transform local news. The effort includes broadcasters, public policy leaders, citizens’ groups, educators and scholars.

Powell will research new ways that broadcast and other news media can increase coverage of local communities.

His research will include the “best practices” of current local news organizations and new opportunities in cable television, radio, broadband, digital broadcasting and other technologies, said Geoffrey Cowan, dean of the USC Annenberg School for Communication.

Powell will write a series of papers addressing these topics as the basis for discussions across the country. In the fall, he will join USC Annenberg’s School of Journalism as a visiting professor, teaching courses in broadcast journalism and new technology.

“Excellent local news broadcasts offer one of the most important instruments for the creation of an electorate and a community that is enlightened and connected,” Cowan said.

“But while there are many examples of outstanding local news and public affairs programming, it is widely agreed that much more can and should be done.

“From his work as a television producer, network news and public radio executive – along with the pioneering research and programming he directed at the Freedom Forum – Adam Powell has the vision and experience to help launch this initiative.”

Powell said USC Annenberg is “exactly the right school to tackle this challenge.”

“The school combines the academic, research and professional strengths of journalism and communication with the opportunities presented by the largest local news laboratory in the U.S. – Southern California,” Powell said.

Powell comes to USC Annenberg from Howard University’s WHUT-TV, where he was general manager of the broadcast and cable television channels.

Previously, he was vice president of technology and programs for the Freedom Forum, a “nonpartisan foundation dedicated to free press, free speech and free spirit for all people.”

In his 15 years there, Powell developed new media conferences and seminars – including programs about media in Africa – and developed training programs on Internet- and computer-based media and information technology.

He also created the weekly “Newseum Radio” program, which aired on public radio, and a 24-hour Internet audio service.

Powell was a reporter and producer at WCBS-TV in New York and spent several years with CBS News as a manager of radio and television news, covering events ranging from manned space flights and elections to the Iran hostage crisis.

In the 1970s, he was an assistant news director and morning anchor at WRVR in New York, then a news/talk station, and was news director of New York’s all-news station, WINS, which became the city’s top station under his leadership.

In the 1980s, Powell was news director of the ABC News/Westinghouse satellite news channels and was vice president of news at National Public Radio.

Michael Parks, director of USC Annenberg’s School of Journalism, said that for the past 25 years, Powell has “been at the forefront of covering urban communities and our changing population and using new technology to do so.”

“A paramount task for journalism today is to promote a civic reengagement through more vigorous and more innovative news coverage,” Parks said. “The news that happens in your community is what matters most to you and exploring new ways to do this and sharing best practices are both critical.”

The USC Annenberg initiative is funded by the Pennsylvania-based Annenberg Foundation.

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